Chapter 20: Environmental Monitoring

Konstantinos Ntanos. The National Archives, Ruskin Avenue,Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, UK; Dr. W. (Bill) Wei, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, Postbus 1600, NL-3800 BP Amersfoort, The Netherlands

Environmental monitoring is essential to collection care. It provides data for quantifying the exposure to environmental factors, identifying risks to collections, supporting response to those risks and verifying the effect of actions taken. Routinely monitored targets are temperature, relative humidity and light, but also vibration and pollutants, when they pose a threat. The choice of monitoring system depends on the reason for monitoring, the costs of installation, running and maintenance, and the required expertise for interpreting the data collected. A Building Management System is unlikely to serve as a monitoring system for preservation. However, there may be overlap and opportunities for synergy between them. Beyond correct sensor positioning, data periodicity, and appropriate software; a successful environmental monitoring program is one that effects the necessary changes in order to achieve desirable environmental conditions. Building effective working relationships within an organization is paramount to achieving results, regardless of monitoring and control system. Common vocabulary, frequent meetings, meaningful reports, pragmatic expectations, reasonable justification of requirements and a common goal, are necessary to creating the kind of collaboration needed. Collection care in close collaboration with facilities management can establish an effective monitoring program with tangible benefits for both the preservation of the collections and the sustainability of the organization.

Key words: environment, monitoring, preventive conservation, vibrations